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Deconstructive Variations

Deconstructive Variations: Music and Reason in Western Society

Rose Rosengard Subotnik
Copyright Date: 1996
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    Deconstructive Variations
    Book Description:

    In this sequel to her previous collection, Developing Variations, Subotnik applies the insights of Kant, Adorno, Bakhtin, and Derrida to major works of Mozart and Chopin. “Rose Rosengard Subotnik’s work has long defined the forefront of musicological methods and set a high standard for ethically engaged scholarship. In Deconstructive Variations, she brings her impressive knowledge of culture and philosophy to bear on a wide array of new topics, ranging from Mozart operas to the films of Spike Lee. And her chapter on deconstruction not only makes the best case I have seen for the application of this method to music, but it also presents one of the most compelling defenses for deconstruction available. A brilliant contribution to music and cultural studies.” --Susan McClary, UCLA

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8485-4
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
    R. R. S
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xix-xlviii)

    At the end of my previous book, contemporary Western art music was left with a difficult challenge: to merge with society, thereby giving up the distinctiveness of music as a medium, or to risk participating in its own extinction. At the time some readers found this challenge unnecessarily broad; now, only a few years later, it seems if anything too narrow.

    As I write this introduction, not just contemporary Western art music but the entire field of Western musicology seems to have entered “an era of post-music.” The boundaries that once circumscribed music as a discrete conceptual and social domain,...

  6. 1 Whose Magic Flute? Intimations of Reality at the Gates of the Enlightenment
    (pp. 1-38)

    From the start,The Magic Fluteappealed to an unusually diversified audience. Mozart himself called indirect attention to this phenomenon in two letters to his wife, recounting how one acquaintance showed himself “an ass” for laughing at everything in the work, and how, less than a week later, Salieri and Caterina Cavalieri pronounced the work “anoperone,worthy to be performed for the grandest festival and before the greatest monarch.”³ In the mid-1790s, H. C. Robbins Landon tells us, “the aristocracy patronized the Italian opera, the lower classes the German opera in the suburbs, though of course everyone, and from...

  7. 2 How Could Chopin’s A-Major Prelude Be Deconstructed?
    (pp. 39-147)

    During the fall of 1986, when I was teaching a course on music and deconstruction at the City University of New York Graduate Center, I had the opportunity of talking briefly with Jacques Derrida, the acknowledged “originator” of this movement (Derrida’s own work requires the quotation marks). I mentioned that I had become engaged in an attempt to apply deconstruction to music. Derrida took this to mean that I was trying to deconstruct some musicological texts. When I told him that the text in question was actually a prelude by Chopin, he expressed surprise at the idea of applying deconstruction...

  8. 3 Toward a Deconstruction of Structural Listening: A Critique of Schoenberg, Adorno, and Stravinsky
    (pp. 148-176)

    Emotion and meaning are coming out of the musicological closet. The underground passages out of uncritical formalism, which Leonard Meyer began to chart more than thirty years ago, are in the process of being discovered by American musicology at large. This developing critique of musical formalism would be facilitated by a reexamination of what I would like to call “structural listening,” a method that concentrates attention primarily on the formal relationships established over the course of a single composition.

    The general principle of structural listening has become so well established as a norm in the advanced study and teaching of...

  9. 4 The Closing of the American Dream? A Musical Perspective on Allan Bloom, Spike Lee, and Doing the Right Thing
    (pp. 177-212)

    At what could be called the decisive moment in Spike Lee’s 1989 film,Do The Right Thing,a young man named Mookie picks up a garbage can and hurls it through the window of the restaurant where he has been working, thereby galvanizing the people around him into mob violence, which destroys the restaurant—and the restaurant owner’s dream.² The impact of this act is so powerful that it has broken through the fictional boundaries of film to stir up passionate controversy in the American public itself. Was Mookie’s act reasonable? The response of viewers to this question has borne...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 213-298)
  11. Index
    (pp. 299-326)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 327-327)